Old photos in the wooden boxWe need to go back to the good old days. Surely things were better in my grandmother’s day. We were more Christian and things were better then. I hear that a lot. Maybe people expect me to agree with them because I’m a historian. Shouldn’t we want to go back to the good old days?

Um . . . no?

I’m from a family with amazing southern roots. What this means is that I’m from a family of story tellers. I’ve heard about the aunt who died of pneumonia because antibiotics weren’t available yet. There was the corrupt sheriff who shot a man in the back and got away with it. My grandad would shelter young hobos from this same sheriff. Grandad was also in a mine collapse and on a ship that sank. My grandmother and her sisters passed as white to avoid people’s prejudices against their tribe. No one knew what caused polio so my grandmother picked seeds out of the bananas before letting the kids eat the fruit.

Things were different, but I think better or worse depends on your circumstances both then and now. After all, there’s always good mixed into the mess that is life.

My grandmother made a huge meal every Sunday noon and fed any and all of the neighbor kids who were there. Grandad studied geology as a mining engineer and polished purple agate to make Grandma a necklace and earrings I still have. I heard all about the pets from the Jennie the donkey and Martha Washington the goat to a host of ground squirrels and even, for a short time, a rattle snake.

I wouldn’t mind their good times, but I sure don’t want their bad. Maybe that’s why I don’t pray for God to return us to the good old days. That said, I do ask him to lend me just a bit of my grandmother’s patience and strength. There are times I ask for my grandad’s bravery and willingness to stand firm. But most of all, Lord, whatever you send my way, please help me get to the other side and give me the sense of humor needed to spin a tale worth telling.

–SueBE

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